Eight of the “Whirly Girls” posed for a photo on a dock at Lake Minnewaska in 1958. The “Whirly Girls” include (L to R) Kathy (Kaley) Keeler of Chokio, Lois (Leuthartdt) Erickson of Bloomington, Gerilee (Scheldorf) Zimmerman of Alexandria, Janet (Ritter) Frank of Spicer, Kathleen (DeCamp) Brethorst of Brandon, Bonnie (Ritter) Cain of Bloomington, Carol (Olson) Anderson of Chokio, Ardyce (Heins) Brethorst of Chokio, Jane (Lange) Riba of Chaska and Judy (Johnson) Carlsted of St. Cloud. Contributed photo

Our story begins in grade school as most friendships do. We shared birthdays and slumber parties with not much slumbering.  Around 1953 or so, our country schools were closing and the country kids came to town.  Suddenly, we had a new crop of friends.  Our summer evenings after supper were spent at the local park in Chokio playing baseball with whomever was to show up.  Only darkness could send us home to bed.  Also, warm summer days could find us at Lake Hattie, swimming. Somehow, a ride always became available.

During the winter, our parents took turns driving us to Morris, where we roller skated at the Armory.  We also spent time ice skating on the local rink, which the community flooded.  To warm up, we stopped at someones home for hot chocolate and popcorn.

The girls in a more recent photo. Contributed photo

Finally, we were old enough to have wheels and transportation became easier.  High school years kept us busy with watching basketball, football, etc.  Most of us girls played in the band, and some were majorettes or cheerleaders.  We marched in many parades, played for Memorial Day and graduation.  Our lives were full of fun and activities.

In our grade school years we were invited on a single basis to visit the lake cottage of Judy Johnson family on Lake Minnewaska near Starbuck.  It was during our seventh and eighth grade years that Judy’s mom, Laura, had the idea of a group weekend at the cottage.  Of course, we thought that was a great idea!

It easily become a tradition.  What a challenge for one great lady to watch over ten active teenager and keep us all safe.  From the south side of Lake Minnewaska we walked to the beach for an afternoon and stopped at the Dairy Queen for a treat.  All was not always swell.  We had our share of sunburns, sand fleas, and trying to sleep sometimes three to a small bed (GREAT fun).

The “Whirly Girls” pictured on a dock back in the late 1950s. The close-knit group has 30 children, 57 grandchildren and 4 great grandchildren between them. Contributed photo

Graduation was finally upon us.  From 1959, 1960, and 1961; we all departed on a new adventure.  Some to college, some acquiring jobs.  A few of the girls even lived together in Minneapolis and were able to keep in touch.  Marriage was the next big step.

The 10 of us were married within seven years of each other.  All have been married for 52 to 59 years, to our original spouses.  Only Janet has lost her husband (in 2017).  Between us we have 30 children, 57 grandchildren, and 4 great grands.  Seven of us ten ladies married our high school sweethearts.

When Janet turned 50 years old we were invited to her home for a “slumber party” just like old times.  We had a wonderful time reliving old memories, shedding a few tears, laughing and playing favorite games well into the evening and wee hours of the morning.  Judy followed a couple of years later and invited us to our old stomping ground on Lake Minnewaska, which she and her husband now own.

The “Whirly Girls” again on a dock in a more recent photo. Contributed photo

Through the years we have been meeting every couple of years to renew our friendships.  We double up and take turns planning our next adventure.  Our most recent get together was spent in St. Cloud for an overnighter.  It is still a great time, but packed with new memories each time we meet.  The last time we met we were having breakfast at the hotel before departing for home when we engaged in conversation with another group of women.  They were having a three-day shopping trip to different second hand stores.  They wondered what we called our group.  We told them we were the Whirly Girls.  They decided they needed a name also.  One of them popped back in the hotel and said, “We are going to call our group the ‘Whirly Girls Too.’”

Hoping there are many more Whirly Girls out there having fun!